New hearables continue to hit the market. There are hearables designed for listening to music, for hands-free phone calls, or streaming videos, podcasts, and audible books. We have our eyes – and ears – focused on wearable devices that help people with mild to moderate hearing loss understand speech. During the past few years, we’ve looked at (and listened with) hearing assistance devices such as Nuheara’s IQBuds, the Olive, and Wear&Hear’s BeHear Now and BeHear Access. Each of those hearables includes a self-administered frequency threshold hearing test you can use to adjust the incoming audio signal characteristics to match your specific needs. It’s important to note, as those products each do, that they are not medical devices, nor are they intended to solve severe hearing problems. The listed hearables also come with a selection of earbud cover sizes so you can choose the most comfortable size, stays securely in your ears, and seals your ear canal for the best hearing experience. The devices are not alike; each brand and model unique physical and software characteristics.

Lexie Hearing recently launched the Lexie Lumen, direct-to-consumer (DTC) digital hearing aids. Lexie Lumen hearing aids are available in two colors: medium brown and light gray. The devices fit just behind your ears and measure 1.37-inches high and 0.27-inches wide. A thin transparent tube goes forward over the top and into your ear with an ergonomically designed speaker dome. The base unit has dual microphones, volume control buttons, an environmental control button, and a battery door and on/off switch at the bottom. The Lumens run on replaceable 312-size zinc-air batteries. According to the manufacturer, the batteries last approximately 5-8 days with moderate use which they define as 10 hours per day.

The Lexie Lumen is a digitally programmable hearing aid designed to help people with mild to moderate hearing loss hear speech more clearly in noisy environments. After users take a self-administered hearing test in the Lexie app, they can calibrate the hearing aids to their particular hearing profile. Users can adjust directional hearing to set the hearing aids to focus more on sounds in front rather than to the side. The digital noise management feature analyzes sounds to amplify sounds of speech and reduce the level of other types of sounds.

Lexie Hearing sells Lexie Lumens for $799 for a pair or $37 per month for 24 months. The hearing aids come with a 45-day money-back guarantee period in case the user is not satisfied. The hearing aids also include two years of support by hearing experts on staff. When I asked about the experts’ qualifications, a company representative told me the experts are all graduated audiologists. Because individuals may not be registered to practice in every U.S. state, the company refers to them as hearing experts.

There’s a significant price difference between Lexie Lumens and the $200 to $500 hearing assistance devices about which we’ve written previously. The other companies are all careful to state that the hearables are not medical devices. Lexie Hearing identifies the Lumens as hearing aids and rightly points out that $799 is a fraction of the cost of most hearing aids sold by audiologists. When President Obama spoke out about the hearing industry and the tragedy that 80% of the population that needed hearing assistance but did not get it, he claimed a part of the problem was the average price of hearing aids including audiologist tests, assessment, fittings and follow up visits was more than $5,000. Senator Elizabeth Warren presented the OTC Law to the U.S. Senate which was passed and signed in 2017.

We know that Lexie Hearing is not the only company that will sell hearing aids directly to the public, but they are the first we have covered on Health Tech Insider. Soon, I’m going to have a chance to check out the Lexie Lumens and will report back on my experience with them.